Monday, May 21, 2018

PBS Should Be Ashamed For Trying To "Improve" Classic Literature

I never thought I'd be in the position of criticizing PBS. 

I love PBS. I love Masterpiece Theater, and the way PBS keeps modern interest in the classics alive. The production values of PBS shows is amazing, and everything is done to the best of the production teams' abilities. To be honest, I don't think I've ever criticized any PBS show. 


Until today. 

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott is one of my lifelong favorite books. As a matter of fact, I own early first editions of both Little Women and Good Wives, back when the story was divided into two separate books. So when I learned the PBS was going to do a production of the book, I was thrilled. I knew that what would result would be a glorious, beautiful film version of a story I know so well I can recite large sections of it. 

And then I watched it tonight.

For some ungodly reason, PBS decided to "improve" Little Women

Are you kidding me? You can't improve Little Women. There's nothing to improve. This is one of the great American classics, a story that has endured in public affection and interest for almost a century and a half. what in the hell is there to improve in the first place? 

What? Is the story of four sisters growing into adulthood during the tumultuous years of the Civil War and its immediate aftermath somehow not enough? Does the story suck somehow? If it does, then that suckitude was so subtle that neither me nor millions of readers who love this book and its characters never noticed? No one needs to make everything different when Mr. March falls ill in Washington and the girls are left on their own. 

There's no way that Meg would have left her sisters alone and gone to the Moffats and get drunk on champagne at a ball while her father is lying dangerously ill in a hospital in DC. 

There's no way that Amy would have been able to get the money for pickled limes while her mother's away nursing her father. 

There's no way that Jo would make the unilateral decision to remove Amy from her school while both her parents are occupied with Mr. March's illness. 

There's no way that Jo and Laurie would be kissing in the attic while Beth lies at death's door on the floor underneath. 

What in the hell are you people thinking? 

Let's be honest--we've all seen this. We've all wondered why Hollywood feels the need to "improve" the storylines of classic literature but the fact of the matter is simple for anyone outside a film production company to see. 

There's a reason why classic literature is regarded as classic and that's because there's nothing TO improve in those beloved stories. Nothing. They're classic because they're beloved just as they are. They don't need new creative over a century after they were written! What possible value does a modern screenwriter bring to a story that's part of the Americana that makes up the literature and mythology nurtured in a fledgling country desperately seeking to find its own identity in the words and stories of the people who lived during that era? 


So--shame on you, PBS. Shame! You've managed to ruin one of the best American classics ever written and for what? Pissing off people like me, who find a way to squeeze money out of their tight monthly budgets to keep you afloat. I've never been as disappointed in any PBS production as I am right now. Absolutely revolted. 

This PBS version of Little Women? Don't bother, folks. If you see this adored story butchered the way it's been in this production, you will also find yourself wanting to throw things at the TV. 

For shame.